The evolution of the spatial structure of the Irish dairy processing industry


  • Proinnsias Breathnach National University of Ireland, Maynooth



The Irish dairy processing industry has undergone a profound process of spatial reorganisation since the original introduction of the creamery system in the late nineteenth century. This process is described in the form of six distinct but interwoven episodes: the elimination of the privately-owned creameries, the amalgamation of dairy co-operatives into larger units, internal rationalisation of processing within these units (including the closure of branch creameries), concentration of on-farm milk production and, most recently, internationalisation accompanied by the movement towards privatisation of the largest dairy processing co-operatives. Among the outcomes of these combined processes have been the widespread elimination of dairy farmers from the industry and the reduction of those remaining to the essential status of contract suppliers to large agribusiness enterprises whose primary orientation is now increasingly focused on private shareholders and overseas operations.

Author Biography

Proinnsias Breathnach, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Department of Geography



How to Cite

Breathnach, P. (2014). The evolution of the spatial structure of the Irish dairy processing industry. Irish Geography, 33(1), 166–184.



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